It was Margi Labella's first look at the Augusta Riverwalk, she's visiting from upstate New York.
"I'm impressed with the effort that's been made to have a beautiful Riverwalk. It's cool, it's beautiful, it's nice," said Labella.
But, Riverwalk isn't as nice as it could be
"I've noticed that because I come three or four times a week," said Jean Hamilton, of North Augusta, who has been coming to Riverwalk since it opened and says it's not the same place use to be."The weeds are really taking over several areas not only where we're standing but below too," she said.
Two brutal assaults shined a spotlight on Riverwalk, but with the arrests of suspects, the public is returning. But, the attention on the park is revealing problems.
Riverwalk opened as a beautifully landscaped park. Plants were put on pedestals, and there were ID tags to tell an appreciative public.
People from all over still come to Riverwalk; Stacy Yee was visiting from Indiana.
"I hadn't actually noticed, until you pointed it out, but it does look pretty sad, yes," said Yee.
Riverwalk opened as a Garden City showcase, a point of civic pride, but look at Riverwalk today and a lot of its original luster has been lost.
Riverwalk can look dirty; parts of it appear to be giving way, or are gone altogether. There's also missing concrete and broken brick work. Rust gathers on railings, where a coat of paint seems long overdue. Litter can be picked up but you wonder how long the trash cans will be able to hold it.It's all in a park out-of-towners found impressive, and locals were proud of.
"Would you call this well maintained?" we asked Yee. "Not exactly, no," she said.
And, a Riverwalk is this state of repair does not present Augusta in a favorable image.
"Not good, there's riverwalks in other places, you know, and I'm sure some of us have visited them, so there is a lot to be done," said Hamilton.
There is a crew and a budget for Riverwalk. However, a lot of the problems there go beyond the routine day to day work, but in this year's budget, money has been set aside for Riverwalk maintenance out of the capital fund. That funding amount is $25,000.
The Augusta Riverwalk was built at a cost of $12 million and had its official ribbon cutting 25 years ago in April of 1988.
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